In honor of Purim, the upcoming holiday that Jewish people will be celebrating in Israel and throughout the world, I am taking a small break from my blog series about God’s Word and His plan for Israel. The funny thing, though, is that the story of Purim actually echoes much of what I wrote in my last few blog entries, as well as what I will write in the coming weeks…
The attempted annihilation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia is a story that continues today throughout the world. While the players have different names, the spirit is the same. It is an attitude stemming from an anti-God or anti-Messiah spirit, which is full of jealousy and hatred, causing them to bring false accusations against the Jewish people. In fact, these are very similar to what the evil man, Haman, said:
“Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of all other people, and they do not observe the king’s laws, so it is not in the king’s interest to let them remain. “If it is pleasing to the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who carry on the king’s business, to put into the king’s treasuries.” Esther 3:8-9
One of the most well-known and celebrated verses, which is associated with the holiday of Purim, is found in the book of Esther 4:14, when Mordecai speaks these words to Esther:
“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”
No doubt, these words are important and challenge each of us to take a stand in these troubling times when, once again, we see the world turning against the Jewish people. While Esther is usually hailed as the heroine of the story – and her bravery and faith in God is to be commended – I believe that Mordechai is the one we can really admire in this beautiful story from the book of Esther:
“And all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman; for so the king had commanded concerning him. But Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage.” Esther 3:2
This verse contains the key issue of the entire book. While all of the King’s servants bowed down to Haman, whom the King promoted to greatest in the kingdom, second only to the King himself, Mordecai refused. Mordecai was a devout Jewish man who loved God and feared Him. His refusal to bow down to Haman came from a place of not putting anyone before God. Mordecai also had the keen discernment to know that Haman was an evil man, who had no regard for God Almighty, and refused to pay him homage. This took great faith and courage!
The reason I believe that Esther 3:2 is the key verse of the entire book, is that it shows that the people of God are to put Him first; we are to bow down to Him and Him alone, and we are to accept and submit to His authority first and foremost in our lives.
Let us not overlook the fact that by the time Mordecai gave Esther the challenge of “stepping up to the plate” to approach the King on behalf of the Jewish people, he had already demonstrated to her what it means to put God first, and to not bow down to the world’s ways.
We all would like to think that we would do the same thing if put in such a position, wouldn’t we? Let’s be careful not to fool ourselves, though. Standing firm for faith, righteousness, and truth in the face of possible death is not something we can do in our own strength. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can face such a challenge.
Let me leave you with this bit of encouragement
“ For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7
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Thank you, Moran, for the excellent article on Purim. Our MiniChurch at Hope Chapel will be having our first Purim feast and celebration. We will be enjoying Matzoball soup, hamantashen and other Israeli foods and watching the story of Esther. We will be having a time of prayer for Israel. I hope this becomes a yearly event.